Safety Ryan Clark was fined $40,000 by the NFL for his hit on Ravens tight end Ed Dickson in Sunday night’s loss to Baltimore.
Clark was angry about the fine when speaking about it during open locker room on Wednesday.
“I guess I have somewhat of a reputation, but that has nothing to do with the play, with what happens,” said Clark. “I am all for player safety, so much so that I don’t want to hit people with my head. We have talked about this time and again and I try to get my head out of the way constantly. There are reasons I can’t lift my arms up on Mondays, because I am using my shoulders. To be fined when I did everything in my power not to hit him with my helmet, everything.
“You have to make a decision, do you put people to sleep because you are going to get fined any way, or do you blow their ACL. One of the two.”
Clark was informed of the fine by Coach Mike Tomlin, who issued the following statement regarding the fine.
“I think the fine that Ryan Clark received was excessive,” Tomlin’s statement read. “I am a proponent of player safety and the league’s pursuit of improvement in this area. I, like the vast majority of people in this industry, witness daily the steep price that these young men pay to play this game on so many levels. Ryan has my full support if he chooses to appeal this in any way.”
This is Clark’s second fine in two weeks after being hit with a $15,000 fine for a late hit against the Patriots, which he understood because it was out of bounds.
This time, though, he feels he did nothing wrong.
“If I would have jumped up and put my facemask on his helmet, or put the crown of my helmet in his neck or his facemask, I would understand that,” said Clark. “But I didn’t. I put my head all the way to the left as far as I could go. So unless I get a longer neck or a smaller head, there’s nothing else I can do. By the time the contact was fully made, my back was almost turned to him. If you look at it, I spin all the way around because of the way I was trying to turn my back to make the hit. And if I am going to put that much effort into not committing the foul, and you fine me $40,000 for that.
“I might as well put him to sleep for real. It’s going to turn into, if you are going to fine me $40,000, I might as well put him to sleep for real, or I might as well blow his knee out.”
Clark honestly thought he would hear back from the league telling him that the play was legal and should not have even resulted in a penalty.
“I did everything I was asked to do,” said Clark. “And (Roger) Goodell and those other guys, they sit in their office with their suits and make these decisions on what are split second reactions by the players. This time it’s wrong. There is nothing they could say or tell me to make me feel like it’s right. There’s no way they could write me a letter or call me to their office and say anything, whether it’s Ray Anderson. I think this is a situation where DeMaurice Smith needs to step in.
“The hit wasn’t malicious at all. I know how to knock somebody out if I want to knock them out. If I wanted to put him to sleep, I would have put him to sleep. But I didn’t want to. I was trying to just make a play on the ball, the only way I would have an opportunity to make a play on the ball. If you watch the film, I tuck my head to the left, almost turn my back completely to him by the time the hit is finished. It’s just wrong. Am I supposed to let him catch it, and wait for him, then hug him? Or should I throw a pillow at him? Should I blow a whistle and say, ‘Hey, look, I am about to tackle you.’ No, that’s not football. And there was nothing malicious about it. It wasn’t a spear. It wasn’t a forearm to the head. It wasn’t any of those things. And to be fined $40,000 just for that, to me it’s either targeting me as a single player or it’s targeting this team, as we’ve talked about before. For me, I’ve tried to take the high road on a lot of things. I’ve been asked a lot of questions about hits this year. And I always say if it’s not involving me, I am out of it. I didn’t want us to be the team constantly complaining about hits. But this is ridiculous.”
When asked if he would appeal the fine, Clark didn’t commit because of the process he would have to go through to do so.
“I would, but you appeal to the same people,” said Clark. “You appeal to the same people. Somebody else needs to step in. I am done, you know. Not that I respected Roger (Goodell) before this, for the way that he is running the game but this is just ridiculous. It’s a football play. It wasn’t with any malicious intent to hurt a player. It was to get the ball out. I even actually hit the ball. He didn’t even fall backwards.
“I can appeal but I appeal to the same person, the same man that’s going to sit across from me. No, he’s not going to sit across from me because I will not sit across from him, unless they handcuff me, which is probably the next step anyway.”
Clark’s teammates, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, agreed that the hit was legal.
“It’s unfortunate,” said Roethlisberger. “You never want to see one of your guys get hit, especially for that much money. I went back and watched it. If you slow it down and watch it, it’s about as picture-perfect of a tackle you can make. His head was down right across the chest and the back of his helmet maybe grazed the bottom of the receiver’s face mask. Someone needs to stand up and do something like De Smith. He is our player guy, stand up and do something for our players.”
Wide receiver Hines Ward was hit in the game by Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, a play that wasn’t penalized and knocked Ward out of the game with a stinger. Roethlisberger was asked if the Steelers receivers get the same treatment as their opponents, although it was later learned Lewis was fined $20,000.
“Who hit Hines?” Roethlisberger sarcastically asked. “I don’t know if there was a fine. Was there a fine anywhere else? Who knows? You have to be careful how much you comment on that stuff.”
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